Hate crime probe as politicians hit out at anti-Islamic leaflet
Politicans from across the community yesterday united in condemnation of anti-Islamic material distributed around an area of south Belfast.
The PSNI said that it is treating the incident, during which leaflets were delivered to homes in the lower Ravenhill Road area of south east Belfast, as hate crime.
The leaflet, purported to be from a group which calls itself Generation Sparta, warns against the 'Islamification' of Northern Ireland.
It contains a number of racist messages, one of which calls for Catholics and Protestants to unite against "a common threat from fanatical Islamists" and that "Protestants and Catholics bled for this land, not Islamists".
It singles out Sinn Fein and the Alliance party for supporting immigration.
Police received a report on Wednesday that the leaflet had been delivered to an address in the area earlier in the week.
Chief Inspector David Moore said that officers are making inquiries.
"The Police Service of Northern Ireland continues to make it clear that hate crime, in any form, is unacceptable," he added.
"Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected.
"We in PSNI are working with our partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors to provide reassurance, support to victims and promote tolerance and respect for all cultures and identities."
A range of politicians expressed disgust at the contents of the leaflet.
DUP MLA Christopher Stalford said that he was raised in the area and the leaflet did "not speak for the people who live there".
South Belfast DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly added: "It is absolutely wrong and dangerous to try and stir up racist sentiment by conflating an entire religion with the vile, violent acts of terrorists, who are just masquerading under the cover of religion.
"In addition, the leaflet totally disregards the express wishes of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby's family that his death should not be used to stir up hate."
Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir described the leaflet as "fascist and Islamophobic", adding that he has reached out to Muslim community leaders in south Belfast "in an attempt to allay any concerns raised by this incident".
Green Party MLA Clare Bailey said she believed those behind the leaflet want to stir up hatred in the community, but that is 'the last thing that local residents want'.